Next stop - Santorini! I was so excited about the stop in Santorini. I have considered myself a novice volcanologist/geologist, so to go to an island that blew itself up in one of the world's largest volcanic eruptions is pretty cool on my list.
We were porting into Santorini early in the morning so I got up even earlier to watch the ship glide into the bay of Santorini. If you haven't ever taken a cruise in the Aegean Sea and then gotten up early and watched the sunrise over the islands of Greece, do it. I highly recommend it.
Santorini is the southern most island in the group of islands called the Cyclades.
Santorini is too little of a port for our ginormous cruise ship to come into so we had to be tendered in by small boats. (A ship's tender is a small boat used to take people and /or supplies back and forth from the boat and port. Now you know.)
Santorini is a C shaped island, and it is actually a caldera, or volcanic crater. Steep, layered cliffs rise out of the ocean all around. A large eruption around 1600 BC destroyed the center of the volcanic island that was here. The sea rushed in and filled in the center leaving the sides of the volcano (the cliffs) as all that was left.
After we reached the island, we started a hike down the east side which has a gentle slope to the sea compared to the sheer cliff face that we ported at.
The gentle hills of Santorini.
The main town in Santorini is called Thira. Santorini has no rivers or natural sources of water. At all. And it is an arid climate. The locals were telling us that they collect what little rain water they do get in barrels and then bring the rest in on ship.
The homes in Santorini are all brightly colored. This practice started when they would mix different colors of the naturally occurring volcanic sand into the plaster. All the reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges are sands found on the island. Santorini is filled with tiny churches, which all have their domes painted blue, like the one on the right of this picture.
On our hike back to the main part of town, we passed this little courtyard. Maybe they get the blue color from mixing in pieces of sky. Sigh... just a little whimsy.
The town's fish market was up and going, and filling the building heat of the day with the smell of a fresh catch, making you wonder how anyone could ever decide to eat fish at all.
Halfway through our visit, our kids started asking to go back to the boat. I think they had had enough of Greece, and the heat, at this point. What's the best way to keep kids going?
Feed them pizza of course. Even Greek pizza will do.
As we walked around, it was pretty obvious that Santorini's only economic industry is tourism. Which as tourists, was okay with us.
Thira and a view of the caldera.
The people of Santorini were friendly and kind. We had a chat with the man who ran the little Greek cafe that we ate at. He was very interested in where we are from and what we were doing there.
Thira is a very exposed to the elements on Santorini's western face. There weren't a lot of places for shade. (The next time I have my picture taken, will someone please remind me to take my lens cap out of my front pocket so I don't look like I am carrying around a container of dip or chew?)
That volcanic hill to the right of me is evidence of continuing volcanic activity at Santorini. In 1707 this lava flow breached the surface of the sea. The small island is now called Nea Kameni and it had its last eruption in 1950.
Before we got to Santorini, everyone told us that we had to make it over to the village of Oia on the northern tip of the island. We never made it over there with our four tired kids, but we got a good view of it from the hill we climbed.
In the towns on Santorini, there really were no roads or streets. Just walking paths that linked all the homes together.
As we sat and enjoyed the view from the top, we saw all the boats tendering people back to the cruise ship. We felt we didn't get enough time in Santorini, but didn't really want to extend our visit by getting stuck on a small island in the Aegean Sea, so this is our last view of Santorini. After the hustle and bustle and Athens, the relaxed and easy going pace of Santorini was a welcome change. We heard about some great beaches here. The Red Beach, the Black Beach, and the White Beach. All colored by the volcanic sands that grace their shores. We didn't make it to them either. I guess we will just have to go back. Right?